Being pregnant looks miserable. My wife is currently pregnant with number 2 AND 3, and I have to say this time around is taking its toll. Our bodies are amazing things but I am convinced the female body is an absolute work of magic. The pregnant female body releases a potion of hormones to seamlessly allow the body to stretch and conform as the new addition is developing (a whole other wonder entirely). As many of you know, this incredible change comes with some aches and pains. As many of you don't know, a chiropractic performance therapist is uniquely qualified to help during this sometimes, helpless period. Your obstetrician generally has very limited options for prescribing medical treatment during this sensitive time in baby development, which presents a great opportunity for sports chiropractors. I specify sports chiropractic because generally an audible adjustment as you might be used to isn't, in my opinion, the best way to treat a prenatal patient. As a sports doc we have education and experience in techniques that have been shown to provide fantastic outcomes in such patients. Here are a few common musculoskeletal conditions that pregnant patients commonly present with and how we help:
Let's just get the awkward elephant in the room out of the way immediately. This can be absolutely paralyzing pain for some prenatal patients and many are hesitant to see anyone about the condition because of the intimate areas involved. Remember that incredible concoction of hormones I spoke about a minute ago? Well they reach the pubic symphysis as well. The process is vital when giving birth, allowing the pelvic bowl to stretch and fit a little one through the birth canal but during pregnancy the constant stretching on the symphysis can cause inflammation and exquisite pain.
HOW WE HELP
Often the adductor musculature is found to be hypertonic. With all the relaxing of ligaments and stretching of joints, excessively tight muscles pulling in the same direction surely doesn't help. Using myofascial release, massage, Active Release Technique, or Graston we can reduce neural drive and successfully relax the muscles. We then treat the joints. When adjusting patients I typically use a more common technique but with prenatal patients I have found activator adjustments to the SI joint (in the back) and superior pubic rami (in the front) to help relieve tension and pain. I finish the treatment with Rock Tape application to help support the growing belly and take as much stress off of the symphysis as possible. Home remedies include using an ice pack just before bed and simple exercises (PRI based) to help keep the joint aligned on your own.
A complaint of pain just at the diaphragm and lower ribs is very common among the pregnant population. As the weight of the abdomen pulls on the obliques (which attach to the ribs) it is not uncommon to experience pain with twisting and deep inhalation.
How we help
Chiropractic adjustments of there ribs and thoracic spine go along way in pain relief for this type of ailment, but stopping there would be a mistake. Myofasical release using Graston technique is extremely beneficial and not contraindicated with this population. Often after just one treatment in a matter of minutes the patient will find relief with deep breaths and walking. Per usual, I follow the treatment up with Rock Tape application following the ribs and often the myofascial sling to support the musculature.
Swelling in limbs
Swelling is often noticed in the second trimester of pregnancy and can progress through the third as the child grows. If left untreated swelling can disrupt nerve activity and lead to numbness or tingling in the limbs.
How we help
Swelling in an extremity is easily managed using a NormaTech Pulse Recovery System, and manual therapy on the lower limbs to promote muscle contraction and lymphatic pumping, effectively pushing effusion back toward the heart. Rock Tape application can also be used to lift the skin and provide more subcutaneous space for lymphatic drainage.
Low Back Pain
Probably the most common complaint in prenatal patients that we see is low back pain. After all, that is typically what chiropractors are known to treat. As the belly grows and weight is disproportionately on the front end, we tend to lean backward to keep our center of gravity. This works until it doesn't and the joints in the back of the spine become weary, and the muscles surrounding these joints guard.
How we help
To treat this condition we start with myofascial work on the indicated muscles. Active Release Technique and Graston technique is a go-to for fast relief. Joint adjustment using the Activator is typically helpful. Again, a supporting Rock Tape application helps the patient support the new weight in a more neutral posture, and finally showing the patient exactly how to handle the weight as you grow is instrumental in a pain free pregnancy.
If you are pregnant and experiencing any discomfort, please reach out. We are happy to help.